In a game that went disappointingly down to the wire, the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the New Orleans Hornets by 8. If you DVR'd this game, just skip to the final two minutes, and save yourself some pain. Oh, my head.
The Blazers were led by Jamal Crawford's 31 points and 8 assists, supported by Raymond Felton (18 points, 6 assists), LaMarcus Aldridge (14 points, 7 rebounds), Gerald Wallace (14 points, 6 rebounds) and Nicolas Batum (9 points, 5 rebounds, a few big plays). Marcus Camby again played short minutes while recovering from bronchitis. Consequently, the Blazers struggled to pull down rebounds throughout, which was the impetus for a very long game.
The first half of this game was unmemorable. I won't bother doing a giant recap because a.) you don't really want to read it, trust me, and b.) I skipped right by most of the second quarter to catch up on the DVR. Basically, assume the Blazers didn't show up, and the Hornets played hard at both ends. But since they're still New Orleans, it meant the Hornets only led by 4 at halftime. The rebounding was a killer: New Orleans missed 22 shots. Of the available rebounds, the Blazers grabbed 9, and New Orleans grabbed 11. Ouch.
The second half continued the trend. Poor Blazer play, poor rebounding, Hornets take advantage. With six minutes left, the Hornets pushed the lead to 9, and the Blazers only had 48 points. The lead would build no further. The Blazers ramped up the D, and finally started hitting a few shots, as Crawford and Felton controlled the offense and pushed the Blazers to a 3 point lead after the third. Celebration ensued in the Gameday Thread.
Jamal Crawford continued to heat up in the fourth, with the Blazers quickly jumping to a 6 point lead. However, an offensive foul forced him out of the game, only for Raymond Felton to stay hot. But the Hornets stayed close, thanks to the rebounding advantage. With 7 minutes left, the Blazer lead was back to 1. The teams fought to a standstill, with the Blazers leading by 2 with two minutes left. With 90 seconds left, Batum stole the ball from the Hornets and was fouled on the break, leading to a 4 point lead. The lead reaches 5 when Al-Farouq Aminu (shooting 12% from three!) hits a three-pointer to cut the lead to two. But two FT's later, Vasquez misses a layup for NO, and finally the Raymond Felton's free throws put away a game that was much closer than necessary.
Review the very uninteresting box score, then stay tuned for Dave's recap later. The Blazers are back on the court tomorrow night in Dallas. That should be interesting. -- Tim